Exploring the grain: The sound of the voice in Bruce Nauman's Raw Materials
Author: Taylor, Millie
Source: Studies in Theatre & Performance, Volume 26, Number 3, October 2006 , pp. 289-296(8)
Abstract:Since John Cage's 433 we have accepted the sounds of the world as music and become more aware of the ambient sounds in our lives. Since Barthes' The Grain of the Voice we have been aware that song contains both verbal communication and a bodily articulation of sound. This paper starts from these two points to explore the relationship between body, voice and space in contemporary performance.
Sound does more than exist as a background to our lives. It affects our understanding of body and space: the body's experience of space is modified by music and sound through the vibrations generated by the sound. Vocal communication creates vibrations that issue from one body to another, allowing empathetic understanding of bodily states whether through verbal or non-verbal sounds. Sounds can be modified within the body or through the use of technology. The effect of technology can be to increase the listener's awareness of the material presence of sound, but, at the same time, it can upset, distort or remove the relationship between the speaker's body and that of the receiver.
Both verbal sounds and the bodily tensions of the speaker communicate, but there is also a physical reaction to the vibrations and the empathetic communication. This raises the possibility that voice and sound need to be theorized, conceptualized and composed with an awareness that the sounding body in space creates an atmosphere in which the sound itself, as well as what it communicates, has an impact. This paper uses Bruce Nauman's installation, Raw Materials, at Tate Modern to explore some of these issues.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: University of Winchester.
Publication date: October 13, 2006
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